In a dramatic turn-around, President Yoweri Museveni has castigated the security forces for the mayhem that has taken place following the Arua by-election last week. In a reply to a host of social media adherents, Museveni said that he “condemned in the strongest terms” the killing of a host of people following the riots.
Eight days ago at the Arua by-elections, a soldier known to be of the Commando Unit of the Special Forces Command (SFC), shot and killed Yasin Kawuma, the driver of the Kyadondo East Member of Parliament (MP), Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine.
Following this incident, six MPs, including Kyagulanyi, were beaten and arrested for terrorism and treason charges. The ones who were critically injured were Kyagulanyi and Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake.
Their arrest and subsequent charges arose from the accusations that they were involved in an incident where the presidential convoy was pelted with stones by unruly youth. This is what prompted the brutalization of the MPs and more than 30 people, some of whom are also still arrested or are ill in hospitals.
Initially, Museveni and other military and government spokesmen, while condemning the acts of brigandage, accused the MPs of involvement in acts that would have amounted to assassination. When Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Opposition politician, Dr. Kizza Besigye condemned the SFC Commando Unit for the killing of Kawuma, their spokesman, Captain Jimmy Dennis Omara, justified the action of the security forces. He said that such was the way the Commando Unit had defeated Joseph Kony’s the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Jamil Mukulu’s Allied Democratic Front (ADF).
This was an implicit admission that the SFC Commando Unit that their Commander-in-Chief (Museveni) had approved of their action. But in his response in the media, while Museveni said that he condemns the killing of the youth in Mityana, Jinja, Katwe and the beating up of journalists, he does not specifically refer to Kawuma’s killing.
This follows the cacophony of voices condemning the brutal actions by the NRM security forces on the protestors. Such strong criticism has come from the European Union (EU) diplomats accredited to Uganda, the United States Embassy, a global group of more than 80 musicians and other groups in and outside Uganda. A Kenyan group of students and young lawyers were due to come to Kampala tomorrow to demonstrate for the release of Kyagulanyi.
As this was going on, Kyagulanyi was yesterday flown to Gulu to be tried by the Military Court for treason and terrorism charges. However, when he appeared before the Court, it withdrew all the charges and handed him over to the civilian court alongside the other arrested MPs.
The news of his release by the Military court caused a lot of ululation and dancing in Kampala streets. However in Gulu, there were riots following Kyagulanyi’s production in court leading to six injuries caused by Police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.